Chris Jullien shares what surprised him and his Celtic teammates about Thursday's match
Celtic defender Christopher Jullien has admitted that he and his teammates were surprised at the levels they were playing at early on in their first pre-season game.
The Hoops got their 2020-21 programme underway with an entertaining draw against French top-flight side Nice in the Veolia Trophy on Thursday.
Kasper Dolberg put the Ligue 1 side in front at Lyon’s Groupama Stadium after Hoops talisman Odsonne Edouard had a goal wrongly ruled out by VAR.
Following a complete overhaul of the team in the second half, Patryk Klimala staked his claim for a first-team spot by scoring minutes after coming on.
The Polish striker charged onto Teddy Boulhendi’s attempted clearance before slotting into the empty net for the equaliser and final goal of the encounter.
Celtic had not played for 131 days but they did very well against a tough side and, looking ahead to Saturday’s meeting with tournament hosts Lyon, Jullien spoke of the hard work he and his teammates have been putting in.
“On Thursday I was feeling great on the field and even in the first 15 or 20 minutes, we were surprised at the level of how we were playing – the football, the passes, the runs we made,” Jullien told the official Celtic website.
“It was a great 60 minutes to be on the field with everyone and to be back after this long break.
“We know that we have a good team and we know the talent we have, so to have quality opponents is good for us, to be ready for the championship and the games that we target in the next few months.
“The week in Loughborough, we definitely worked hard in training every day. The staff and all the coaches did a great job. Now that we’ve got games, we put everything on the field and see what’s going to happen.”
Celtic have been head and shoulders above every other team in Scotland over the past nine years, winning the last nine Scottish Premiership titles in a row and securing three domestic trebles in a row between 2016 and 2019 – but this season, the pressure is on like no other season.
The Bhoys stand on the edge of an unprecedented tenth title in a row, but with Rangers getting stronger every year and planning to do all they can to stop 10IAR, Neil Lennon and co must work harder than they ever have done before.
Indeed, Leigh Griffiths didn’t make the cut for Loughborough and France due to his fitness level, so there’s no messing around from Lennon and no room for error – but for those that have made the cut, it’s not surprising for them to be hitting high levels this early on.